A SOLITARY WALK

I walk following a particular route in my neighbourhood three times a week. Passing small streets and rows of houses. Making the same turn on the corner of a small neighbourhood park. Crossing the road at the same intersection. Walking over the same bridge and climbing the same hill. Over and over again. I have done the walk, Merlyna’s solitary walk, over a thousand times. But the walk never gets old.

I walk the same walk in all four seasons. In the spring, when little birds begin to sing, and the buds are bursting out. In the summer, with the warm sun casting on my bare shoulders and grass needles crunching under my feet. In the autumn, when the leaves are in their last line of life, and my heart leaps into a sombre mood as they wither and drop away. In the winter, when every breath I take is turned into a tiny drop of misty cloud, embraced by frigid-fingered air as cold as death.

I walk the same walk in many seasons of the heart. When love is in the air. My heart bursts with joy. A smile on my face. Butterflies in my stomach. When sorrow reigns. My heart is bleeding. My soul is crushed. Drowning in tears. My feet follow a near-identical circuitous route. But each walk is distinct. Each is always worthy. It never fails me.

But there’s nothing more solemn than a solitary walk in the snow on gentle winter days.* I simply walk on the field, looking at the vast space of emptiness. There is no one soul on sight. Treading on the snow that is as white as powdered chalk. My footprints follow me like a shadow as I walk. Trees that once had leaves are bare, stand like skeletons against the sky. The plants and shrubberies are in deep slumber, hidden under a soft snowy blanket.

At that moment, my whole universe seems composed of one thing and one thing only, the snow. I become one with its solitude and quietude.

It’s pristine, it cleanses.

It’s serene, it nourishes.

It’s tranquil. It heals.

m, Ottawa, 02.01.2022

Photos from my walks over the Mooney’s Bay Park, viewing the same bridge. Top: on the last day of 2021; Bottom: on the first day of 2022.

* *This writing is largely about a walk, my own solitary walk. It isn’t about a comfortable walk on a magnificently beautiful weather. In fact, Ottawa winter isn’t comfortable. It’s harsh, severe, and miserably long. But one finds a way to survive it. I consider the winter is gentle when it is warmer than -5 Celsius degree. My favourite is when it is just about zero.

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